(The Center Square) – A law firm in Milwaukee says Wisconsin’s public schools have declining enrollment and increasing numbers of administrators.
“Wisconsin has become heavily bureaucratic,” says the report released Monday from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. “And the number of middle men between the teacher-parent-student nexus has never been greater.”
Defunding Classrooms: Investigating the Rise of Bureaucracy in K-12 Schools, as the report is known, says there has been a 100% growth in students in the U.S. since 1950, a 243% growth in the number of teachers, and a 709% growth in the number of administrators.
“The vast majority are administrative roles – dealing with paperwork, human resources and other roles that do not directly interact with students,” Will Flanders told The Center Square. He’s the author of the report, and research director at the institute.
He continued, “Others are communications staff. A percentage of them may well be doing something viewed as useful. But the sheer increase in these positions that were apparently not needed in the past suggests this growth is unnecessary.”
The report puts the total headcount in Wisconsin’s public schools at just over 113,000 employees. That’s an increase of nearly 3,000 people since 2017.
Enrollment, meanwhile, has fallen about 34,000 to a low of 829,143 last year.
The report notes that there’s been a 97% increase in human resources, multicultural education, and equity administrators.
“We’re absolutely seeing administrative creep in a similar way as universities,” Flanders said. “Some of the fastest growing positions – like those in multicultural education and equity – show a similar misguided approach that we’re seeing in higher education.”
The average annual salary for a public school administrator in Wisconsin is between $66,000 and $67,000. That’s about $7,000 or $8,000 more than the average teacher salary in the state.
Chris Bucher, communications officer for the Department of Public Instruction, wrote in an email to The Center Square, “We haven’t had an opportunity to thoroughly review this ‘report,’ so we’re not able to speak to the validity of it. Wisconsin is a local control state, so salary amounts are decided by individual school boards and districts and not the DPI.”
The Center Square also reached out to Jon Bales with the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators. A response had not been received by time of publication.
Flanders says money is “being wasted.”
“When school districts use the excuse of a lack of funding for continued mediocre results, they should be armed with information like this to counter them,” Flanders said. “Secondly, this study confirms the fears of many parents that DEI-style positions are being funded across the state, and not just in the largest cities. If parents live in these districts, they should demand their school board tell them why this is happening.”
Download the PDF of Defunding Classrooms: Investigating the Rise of Bureaucracy in K-12 Schools, from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.